This is a community post, untouched by our editors.

“Just think of the tragedy of teaching children not to doubt.” — Clarence Darrow

Creating an appropriate environment for children to study and learn is extremely important. As Ken Robinson states “if children have the tools to be creative and to innovate, they will have a much better chance of succeeding no matter how the world changes.”  Incorporating creative exercises while teaching is necessary to make sure students enjoy the lessons taught. Parents and teachers need to help the students understand that there are many options that they can choose from while giving them enough time to experiment with what the child enjoys doing the most. Research has shown that encouraging children in the direction the child shows interest in will be extremely beneficial for the child. Caretakers should encourage children to seek out and experiment with a variety of materials in order to understand what the child truly wants to do in the future.

According to Denise de Sonza Fleith, one of the ways in which teachers can incorporate creativity is by “not imposing too many assignments and rules on students, giving students choices, providing students opportunities to become aware of their creativity, and accepting students as they are.” In other words, we need to give children the responsibility of creating their own life without too many restrictions.

Unfortunately, education has not taken creativity seriously, with kids being forced to predominantly memorize textbook concepts without much practical application. This has dire consequences, specifically psychologically, to the affected individuals. Barack Obama himself recently declared that “United States has got to do such a better job when it comes to STEM education.” He continued:

Stifling children of their creativity is like putting them in a bag they cannot escape. (image: Jef Safi / Flickr)

“That’s how we’re going to stay competitive for the future. If we could just tighten standards and lean harder on the STEM disciplines–science, technology, engineering, mathematics–we’d better our rigorous rivals in India and China, and get our economy firing on all cylinders.”

This concept however might not be the best way of perceiving education.

Encouraging competition in STEM education, can disarm creativity. It almost makes education a competitive fire game which discounts the value of individual creativity. As Obama suggests, STEM education has been predominant in many developing countries, not because people genuinely choose it, but because of economic pressures where most students do not have a choice in choosing any other subjects. There is nothing wrong in choosing STEM subjects, however, individual freedom without coercion should be the main priority in education systems—not competition.

The Indian education system, for instance, is very much characterized by a lack of creativity, with technical subjects privileged over arts and humanities. Many who lag behind drop out, making them far more likely to fall into poverty. Global dropout rates have also increased in the recent decade. India has about 550 million people under the age of 25 years, out of which only 11% are enrolled in tertiary institutions compared to the world average of 23%. If creativity in education could be enhanced, perhaps more students would choose to continue their education to a higher level

The whole essence of creativity lies in its freshness, its freedom, its newness. The biggest reward a student receives for being creative is purely intrinsic. Creativity is often unexpected and exciting—it involves seeing things in new ways and breaking rules. We need to live and let live.

Such creative and forward thinking attitudes need to be embedded into our education systems.